Australian orienteering rules are silent on the question of whether an incorrectly placed control should be moved during an event, so for events governed by Orienteering Australia (OA) rules (all events in Tasmania, except for world ranking events, which are governed by the International Orienteering Federation (IOF) rules) it is up to the organizing team to correct (or not correct) the mistake.

The IOF rules do have something to say on the question of problematic controls:

 19.13 If, during the race, the organiser is made aware of a problem with a control or a course (such as a failed punching unit, incorrect positioning of the control unit or a blocked passageway) the organiser should make every effort to correct the problem as quickly as possible. After the race has ended, the organiser must consider the effect of the problem on the fairness of the results and then take any necessary action. Such action could include voiding the results.

What are the implications of moving an incorrectly placed control? 

  • Early runners especially may be disadvantaged if they lose time establishing that the control is misplaced (or missing);
  • Confident competitors might simply recognize that the control is misplaced/missing and continue with their course in the expectation that the course will either be voided, or they will credited with the control;
  • For races conducted under OA rules, organisers must decide whether to correct the mistake, or simply accept that the course(s) affected will be voided. If the error has been reported before many competitors have been affected, and the control is reasonably accessible, correcting the mistake has the advantage of providing an enjoyable race for most competitors, even if the race is eventually voided should there be a protest.

Is it allowable to exclude affected legs?

It is sometimes suggested that the problem can be easily solved by excluding affected legs, or possibly shortening the courses if the problem control is towards the end of the course. OA rules (Appendix 10 - Guidelines Regarding Complaints and Protests, and Cancelling Courses) discusses the former option, and recommends against it (see Part 4 Voiding and Cancelling Courses):

Unacceptable alternatives to voiding

It is important that measures (tempting though they may be) are not taken which may simply aggravate the unfairness.

Many, probably the majority, of hypothetical situations involve problems with a single control or course leg. The IOF Recommendation is that the results must be based on competitors’ times for the whole course and no changes may be made to these times on the basis of split times. This prevents a result being declared on the basis of part of a course only.

This has been introduced because analysis of what happens when you remove one or more legs from the times shows that it usually introduces as much unfairness as it solves.

The possibility of shortening the course is not mentioned in Appendix 10 but might provide a fairer alternative if the course is, say 80% complete when the problem arises, however this could only be considered for a Group C event (i.e. local event).

Note that for races conducted under IOF rules, the equivalent to Part 4 of Appendix 10 is a separate document “Cancelling a competition” available from the IOF website.